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Meryn Stol
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... becoming what FriendFeed could have been.

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Some insight into motivation behind G+ 'real name' policy from Eric Schmidt, executive chairman (ex-CEO) of Google.
I'm at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk.

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies (to me, at least) that Schmidt thinks there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms. Unfortunately, the way the Q&A was conducted, I wasn't in a position to ask him a followup on this particular point.

He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

These aren't exact quotes, but I did my best to paraphrase the gist of what he was saying.


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I like this proposal.
Everyone on all sides of the G+ realnames controversy agrees that there are cases the present set of rules aren't handling well, even if they differ on which cases are the most important ones. Here's a modest proposal: let's not try solving all of them at once, if for no reason than that attempting that would lead us into endless and possibly unresolvable philosophical wrangles.

Instead, I suggest a less ambitious program of slicing off corner cases that can be solved at low cost first, and deferring the tougher ones until we can use that experience to revise our evaluations of cost/benefit. I have a particular one in mind.

There's a felt need out there for people to be able to at least claim long-term aliases or nicknames by which they are better known than by their legal names. Two exemplars that have come up often are Skud (aka Kirrily Roberts) and Lady Gaga (aka Stephanie Germanotta). And I'll admit I'd like to allow people to reference me as "ESR" if they wish.

These are transparent handles. They don't conceal anything; there is no intent in them to obscure identity or disclaim responsibility. There shouldn't be any ethical issue about supporting them for either anonymity advocates or transparency advocates.

I think G+ could solve this problem relatively easily. Here's how. Add a form to apply for an alias. Once the alias is registered, it would become usable as a + reference and discoverable by name search. Limit of three per customer to prevent spamming of the namespace. Well, N for some small N, anyway.

Aliases should be challengeable on grounds of non-uniqueness, though, so I couldn't claim "Eric" and Lady Gaga couldn't claim "Stephanie". They should also be challengeable on grounds of offensiveness, so we don't get Heywood Jablowme or SexyChic69. (I'm no prude, but vulgar handles lower the tone. Take those somewhere else.)

In general, nicknames should be considered a curated namespace rather than first-come-first-served. In case of challenge, the dispute gets bumped to a human to be decided by common-sense rules that Google can develop over time without having to specify in advance.

This does mean that famous people like Lady Gaga (or less famous ones like Skud and myself) would in some sense get preferential treatment. But I think this is what we all actually want out of such a system. Do we really want anyone who isn't Stephanie Germanotta to be able to claim "Lady Gaga" and keep it? The only sensible answer is "no" - and that means human judgment about the claimant's reputation will be required.

This proposal doesn't solve the hard problems about anonymity, nor the internationalization problems with single-word names and the like. It's not intended to. But by isolating one chunk of the anonymity/identity problem on G+, maybe it will reduce the heat and disputation around the others.

First impressions of Lion: Why am I getting asked for the location of "System"?
The inverse scrolling direction of Lion will take some time getting used too.
Chrome 12 does not support elastic band scrolling. Bummer.
I find the new Finder aesthetic (all gray, not a slight bit of color) is kind of boring, to the point of being depressing.

It would be nice if Google would incorporate the technology powering Gmail's priority inbox into Google Plus.

Confusing: The +1 tab does not show posts you've +1'd, but only web pages. I would find it more logical for the tab to show an aggregate of everything you've +1'd, be it Google plus posts, pictures, web pages, or stuff on Google Reader or Buzz you've liked.
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